Deer Valley Resort chef brings experience to the small screen
August 13, 2018
As a chef who has been in the industry for 20 years, Jodie Rogers thought she had seen just about everything in the kitchen. But her new role as a MentorChef on the television show TeenChef Pro is proving her wrong.
Rogers, food and beverage director for Deer Valley Resort, is currently filming the Utah Restaurant Association's television show, which follows teams of high school students and their mentors as they compete to be named the best young chef in the state and win a full scholarship to college. Rogers said it has been fun to teach the students and learn from them while on the show.
Rogers was asked to participate as a mentor in TeenChef Pro a year and a half ago. She was working with the Utah Restaurant Association as an executive board member and had mentored teams to prepare for the association's ProStart State Championship for high school students.
She had just given birth and turned down the offer, but she was able to participate as a guest judge for one episode. After seeing the passion and excitement of the teens, she decided that the next chance she got, she would accept the opportunity.
That chance came this year and Rogers did not hesitate. She is the first female MentorChef.
"I thought, 'What better opportunity for the kids to be able to learn and for us to be able to teach?'" she said.
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She said it has been stressful, emotional and exciting to be a part of the show. Each week, she and her team of students compete against two other teams. They must use ingredients given to them minutes before the start of the hour-long challenge to create a dish that ties into the weekly theme, such as sustainability and nutrition. Rogers and the other two mentors are allotted just 15 minutes to talk through the students' plans before the mentors are sent away.
After the judge tastes the dishes, one student is sent home.
"It's nerve-wracking," Rogers said. "I don't have any nails left right now."
Rogers said being in the fast-paced environment has helped her think on her feet in order to guide her team toward creating a winning dish, a skill she uses at work. Plus, she has been able to hone her training and mentoring skills, which she said has also crossed over to her job.
"It's changed me a little bit as a person in how I can be closer with my staff," she said.
The competitive environment of the television show has also come to work with her. Now, she said she is more motivated to create dishes that would win first if they were in a competition.
"There has to be a winner here, and you can put that in everyday life," she said.
But perhaps the biggest takeaway is the relationships she has built with all of the teens in the competition, both from her team and opposing ones. She said when any student is sent home, it can become emotional. During one of the shows, she said, she cried all day.
"It's becoming really personal," she said. "It's like they are my kids. I am there to take care of them. If they have a win, I have a win with them. If they have a loss, I feel like I failed them."
She has learned from them and their wild creativity. Sometimes, she said, she has to rein them in from creating food that breaks too many norms. But other times, she learns from what they create.
And they motivate her to keep pushing boundaries in her own work. She is proud to see how talented and passionate the next generation of chefs are and is eager to see where they take the industry.
The show is filmed in the Salt Lake Valley and is in its fourth season. The season premiere is scheduled to air on Oct. 14 on ABC4 and continue every Sunday at 9:00 a.m.
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